Heart Health Steps Simple, Says Cardiac Nurse

February is American Heart Month and there is a lot you can do to help your heart remain healthy.

“Manage your stress,” said Rochelle Thompson, a cardiology APRN with the Cotton O’Neil Heart Center in Topeka. “It’s important to get enough exercise, sleep and eat well, as well as taking time for deep breathing and being mindful. Also, recognize that if you’re having a lot of stress and these things aren’t happening, talk to your medical professional.”

Getting regular exercise is important, and it doesn’t have to be daunting.

“Starting slow, for a lot of people, is where you need to start,” said Thompson. “Start slow. Start small. Build up your endurance. As you build up your endurance, you can get into more regular exercise.”

It can be as simple as parking further out in the parking lot and getting in some extra steps or walking to someone’s desk to talk to them instead of using your phone.

“A lot of patients who might have heart trouble might experience things like chest pain or chest discomfort,” said Thompson. “It could be centralized. Sometimes that chest pain can radiate up into your neck and your jaw. Especially, if you’re having chest pain or that discomfort when you’re exerting yourself and it goes away with rest, that’s kind of a red flag to look for.”

If you’re experiencing those symptoms, or shortness of breath or dizziness, talk to your doctor.